We tore the package open as soon as it arrived and quickly smoothed the “Country Love and Peace” pattern quilt over our bed. My husband, Jerry, and I would sleep on it for one night then pass it on. The quilt would end up in Chicago at a Heifer International Quilt Auction. The proceeds would go toward ending hunger worldwide through gifts of farm animals and training in sustainable agriculture. As Heifer International staff, we had seen firsthand how water buffalo, llamas, goats, chickens, bees enable rural families to become self-reliant for food and income, and how they provide recipients with the dignity of becoming a giver as they pass on offspring to neighbors in need.
People from all walks of life had already slept under the quilt: a celebrity, a child, a university professor, a homeless person. Each one signed it and wrote their dream of peace in the accompanying Dream Book. President and Mrs. Carter wrote, “We slept under this quilt after returning from Africa to work for peace in Sudan; we dream of a time when these people will have peace without hunger.” Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter wrote: “Grandfather said, “We must be the change we wish to see”. Eight year old Michael asked, “Can’t we take turns being poor?” An African wrote, “I dream about women with babies on their backs. In loud voices they say, “Please don’t forget us!” “May God bless those who share with others and teach all people to share!”
What would Jerry and I write? Africa is dear to our hearts because we had lived and worked in Kenya in the 1960’s We chose December 12- Kenya’s Independence Day- to sleep under the quilt. As we got into bed and wrapped our arms around each other, we were flooded with memories of standing in Nairobi Stadium in 1963 with thousands of Kenyans shouting “Uhuru! (freedom), Amani! (peace), Harambee!” (let’s work together in harmony). When our daughter was born a few years later, we named her Amani. She lives up to her name, always looking for ways to build peace among people of different race and class. Now she was on her way to Kenya to learn if Heifer International animals were making a lasting difference in women’s lives as emerging entrepreneurs and community leaders. In the Dream Book I wrote, “May we continue to work for sustainability at home and abroad so that the earth will truly know peace. Harambee!”
May we continue to work for sustainability at home and abroad so that the earth will truly know peace. Harambee!
Anna Hanson Bedford was born in Yunnan, SW China of missionary parents and grew up in Wales during WWII. In 1963, Anna and her husband, Jerry, accepted a subsistence assignment with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, assisting young Kenyans to organize Sunday Schools and youth groups in their congregations. Returning to the U.S., Jerry joined the staff of Heifer International which Anna also served as contract writer/illustrator. For 14 years she was Christian Education Director for a Presbyterian church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and for eight years editor of Horizons national magazine and Bible study of Presbyterian Women in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2000, Anna was HI Director of Communications in Little Rock. She is author of two books. One in Christ: Gift and Demand and Shanti Means Peace. The Bedfords have two daughters: Dr. Olwen Bedford, a professor in Macau and Dr. Amani Joy , mother of Imanu’elle in Little Rock.